For property services to continue to operate in the “new normal”, we’ve all had to adjust our working practices to comply with Covid-19 rules. Yet in one key aspect of inventory management, we already had systems in place that enabled effective social distancing – our fully comprehensive property inventory software
What you need from property inventory software
At No Letting Go, we have a specifically designed property inventory software called Kaptur. With compliance at its core, it captures, stores, reports and manages property information.
In a previous post, The benefits of using a property inventory reporting system, we discussed in detail how these systems facilitate great property management from check-in to check-out, making them a great time-saving tool for letting agents. But in these times, when social distancing is paramount, the efficiency and operation of these systems take on new importance. Not only do they improve the property inventory management process, but they also enable letting agents continue supporting the letting of properties while observing social distancing.
How property inventory software enables social distancing
Our property management software was created to facilitate the smooth operation of property inspections and cause minimal disruption to tenants, landlords and letting agents by taking away the requirement to be physically present for inspections. This also supports social distancing:
- Inventories are electronic, so no documentation is passed by hand between individuals
- Inventories are reviewed online
- We use Digisign so all parties can sign reports online
- Allows parties to review reports online
- Parties are able to amend reports online
- Queries can be managed online
- Photos added to reports make it easier to illustrate issues to tenants and landlords
Ensuring tenants and landlords have confidence in the system
Property inventories provide key evidence should a dispute arise about the state of a property. As a letting agent, it’s important for you that all parties can trust this process and feel comfortable that outcomes are objective, even when tenants and landlords haven’t been present at any inspections.
Landlords and tenants also feel that a third party conducting a property inspection is a good way to ensure an independent perspective. Providing a tool that generates detailed reports and lets all sides engage demonstrates how you, as the letting agent, are committed to meeting compliance obligations, which builds confidence.
There are many reasons why property inspections are so important, even in these challenging times. If it’s proving difficult to provide property inventory management for your landlords and their tenants while observing social distancing, then it’s time to reconsider your current approach and look for a system that ensures the safety of your client landlords and their tenants.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could become your property management partner, streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories then contact us today.
With the festive period in full swing and New Year’s Eve celebrations on the horizon, many student landlords are bracing themselves for that dreaded call from a disgruntled neighbour in the early hours of the morning.
It’s no secret that lots of students like to party, and if not managed correctly, related disputes can create rifts that are difficult to repair.
It can be a tough balancing act, meeting the needs of your student tenants and keeping the local community happy. That’s why we’ve produced this student landlord advice guide on how to deal with student parties at your rental property without alienating tenants or neighbours.
To Ban or Not to Ban
If you’re concerned about your student tenants hosting large parties in your rental property, you could insert a clause into the tenancy agreement banning parties of a certain size. While this helps to deter tenants from hosting massive gatherings that could damage your property, it could prove difficult to enforce.
For lots of tenants, a steadfast rule against parties of all kinds could put them off renting your property in the first place, and this decision will narrow your pool of prospective tenants. However, banning gatherings over a certain size is a sensible idea, especially in suburban areas.
Managing the Neighbours
The majority of student accommodation is in busy, suburban areas with convenient amenities close by. While this is great for students, it also means there tends to be a lot of neighbours living within close proximity.
So, if your tenants like to host noisy parties, this can become a problem and damage your reputation as a responsible landlord in the area.
It’s difficult to actually prosecute a landlord for their tenants’ antisocial behaviour, unless you deliberately ignore the problem, or the issue is ongoing. However, staying on good terms with the local community will make your life easier in the long run.
When dealing with noise complaints from neighbours;
- Make sure the surrounding neighbours have your contact details or the details of the letting agent in case an issue arises
- Talk to your tenants calmly to get both sides of the story
- Refer your tenants to the relevant ‘noise’ or ‘nuisance’ clause in the tenancy agreement to explain which one they have broken and why, and the possible consequences if this continues
- Never threaten eviction as a first reaction as this could backfire on you and damage your landlord/tenant relationship
- If problems persist, you could arrange a meeting with neighbour and tenant to clear the air and come to a solution
- As a last resort, you could contact your local council, the police or begin the eviction process
Clear and Open Communications
One of the most important pieces of advice we can offer is to retain a cool and clear head when communicating with tenants and to keep interactions open and honest.
If you’re straightforward with your tenants, they’re more likely to be honest back. Make it clear from the start of the tenancy that you are happy to discuss any issues and ensure they have your contact details to hand.
If they feel like you’re on their side, they’re more likely to obey house rules.
Choose Simple Party-Proof Furnishings
As wear and tear tends to be higher in student rentals, furnishing a student property with expensive furniture is pointless. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to student parties. With extra bodies in the house and alcohol involved, a plush carpet and glass coffee table aren’t going to stay perfect for long.
Go for simple, more affordable essentials from somewhere like IKEA that won’t cost an arm and a leg to replace if necessary. Wipe clean surfaces and easy to clean lino floors are also a sensible option and will help your tenants stay on top of their duties.
Regular Property Inspections
One way to keep an eye on what’s going on in your rental property and help determine if regular parties are taking place is to schedule regular property inspections.
However, you need to ensure the correct procedures have been followed, as there are laws in place regarding the frequency and delivery of landlord inspections.
A professional property inspection will help determine if your property is being appropriately cared for, and whether your tenants are fulfilling their contractual agreements. This could include anything from red wine stains or cigarette burns on the carpets to extra people living in the property. Inventory clerks can even check in with the neighbours to ensure everyone is happy.
Is Renting to Students Worth It?
Despite these possible drawbacks, renting property to students can be very rewarding and comes with great benefits;
- High demand in student towns and cities
- Short term, set contracts of 12 months
- Predictable, reliable market
- Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) offer higher yields
- Students don’t expect fancy furnishings and are happy with simple amenities
- Low void periods
Protect Your Student Rental Property: Inventory Management
The most important step you can take to protect your student house is to ensure a thorough inventory is taken at the start of the tenancy.
A professional inventory service helps you recover any costs or losses due to damage at the end of the academic year. And that’s where we come in. We’re experienced at working with private landlords and letting agents by providing essential reports and property management services.
From check in to property visits, we’re on hand to make the process as stress-free as possible for landlord and tenant.
Find out how our property inventory services could help you manage your student property.
Finding a reliable removal company can be a challenge, and tenants often turn to their landlord or letting agent for advice at the end of a tenancy.
Providing quality recommendations for trusted tradespeople and services builds trust with tenants and means they’re more likely to pass on your details to friends and family.
In order to provide your tenants with reputable removals services, we explore what to look for when searching for a removal company and the benefits of using this service.
Do I Need a Removals Company?
If your tenant asks this question at the end of a tenancy, the answer is usually yes. Most people gather lots of belongings, even over the space of a year. When packing and transporting expensive items of furniture and fragile items, it can pay to leave it to the professionals.
Unless the property is very small, they are renting one room or rent a fully furnished property, it’s likely a professional removal service will be beneficial.
A professional removal service offers tenants;
- Time saving
- Safer packing and transportation of fragile items
- More van space
A professional removal service is even more important for families with lots of belongings and older tenants who may struggle to pack up their home.
How Do I Choose a Removal Company?
We’ve broken down finding the right removal company into a few simple steps;
The first consideration is location. Removal companies based locally to your rental properties are likely to be cheaper than those that have further to travel.
These companies could become part of a portfolio of recommended tradespeople and services you can offer to your tenants.
One of the first places to go for local removal companies is a comparison site. Here, you will find a list of trusted traders and you will be able to filter your search results to find relevant companies more quickly.
Searching by price point, location and reviews can help narrow down your search.
The next step once you have found a few possible candidates is to check removal quotes. Most tenants will be searching for the most affordable option, so if you can recommend a reasonable company they should be happy customers.
Try to get at least three different quotes for the same move, with each cost broken down into insurance, packing, hourly rate, mileage and storage.
We’ve all heard disaster stories of rogue movers damaging expensive furniture or losing sentimental items, and tenants won’t be happy if your recommendation goes wrong.
Once you have narrowed down the search further, it’s time to check the customer reviews. Sometimes, companies are cheap for a reason, and you should be able to weed out any unreliable movers from the reviews online.
How do I Find a Reputable Moving Company?
We’ve got some top tips on how to spot a quality removal company you can rely on;
Ask for Recommendations
Word of mouth can be a powerful tool for finding reliable tradespeople and services.
Have any of your friends or family moved home recently? They may have their own recommendations to offer. It’s also worth checking which removal companies local letting agents recommend.
Have They Been Regulated?
An easy way to determine whether a removal firm is trustworthy, is to check whether they are a member of any regulatory boards or associations.
Check if the company is a member of The British Association of Removers (BAR), a regulatory body which ensures professional excellence. With lists of residential and commercial movers, all companies listed have been tested to industry standards.
Questions to Ask the Movers
Before you recommend a removal company to your tenant, ask these questions first;
- How long has the company been operating?
- Do you offer pre move surveys?
- Do you offer storage facilities?
- Do your quotes include insurance?
- Is a packing service included?
- Is parking on moving day included?
- What is your delay policy?
- Do you ask for any additional removal costs?
Having all the important information to hand is of great use for busy tenants and will make a great impression long term.
How Much Notice Do Removal Companies Need?
The process of getting an initial quote for moving house, the subsequent survey, finding an available date and getting all of the documents in order can take several weeks. It’s a good idea to remind tenants of this as it comes nearer to the end of their tenancy so they can be fully prepared on moving day.
What is the Average Cost of Removals?
The cost of using a professional removals company is dependent on several factors;
- The number and size of the items being transported
- The distance between properties
- Size of the removals team on the day
- Whether it includes packing and packing materials
The Movers and Storers Show
Another way to find reputable moving companies is to attend an industry event such as the Movers and Storers Show.
This year, the show is taking place in Coventry, 19th-20th November and is a convenient place to find trusted partners.
The Importance of Trusted Property Partners
Reputation is important in the lettings industry. If a tenant has a positive moving experience thanks to your recommendation, they are more likely to consider your services in the future and give positive recommendations to friends and family.
That goes for all services you use to manage the rental properties in your portfolio.
Here at No Letting Go, we offer a range of professional services to help landlords and letting agents manage their portfolios and stay on top of their responsibilities.
From property inventory to property visits, our services are designed to protect your investment for the long term.
Browse our full list of property inventory services here to find out how we can help.
The number of older tenants in the private rental sector is growing. Factors such as a rising elderly population along with the cost and effort of property maintenance is making older people turn to rental properties in their later years.
The benefits of renting to elderly tenants are plentiful. From longer tenancy agreements to reliability, we explore these advantages, along with the factors landlords and letting agents need to consider to meet their needs.
The Benefits of Renting to Elderly Tenants
Focusing on elderly groups as your target tenant can bring great advantages to landlords and letting agents;
Older people are more likely to require a settled home rather than move house every few years. As they’ve passed the age of extending their families, older tenants have stable jobs or are in retirement. If you’re looking for a long term tenant (which means less costs and time spent on the property in the long term) then elderly tenants are a good bet.
Tenants with more life experience tend to be reliable, have a steady income from their job or pension and pay their rent on time. When issues arise, older tenants are more likely to have the experience and knowledge to report them swiftly and keep on top of their own day to day property maintenance responsibilities.
Unlike younger tenants and students, elderly tenants are unlikely to host lots of parties or demonstrate any behaviour that could irritate neighbours. If your property is located very close by other properties or you have had issues with noise complaints in the past, older tenants could be a solution.
Elderly Tenant Rights
As with any tenant, landlords must be vigilant in upkeeping tenants’ rights and not discriminating by age or any other factor.
Anti-discrimination laws are in place to protect tenants from unlawful eviction and ensure they find suitable housing.
As a landlord or letting agent you must;
- Ensure all rental property advertisements do not discriminate by age, race or any other defining factors. E.g. you cannot specify an age range when advertising for tenants
- Never tell a prospective tenant that the property is unavailable when it is
- Never end a tenancy without reason
- Make any necessary adjustments to your property when renting to tenants with disabilities as can be found in the Equality Act 2010
Elderly Tenants and Health Issues
One of the big factors to consider when renting to elderly tenants is the possibility of health issues and disabilities. Some common health problems that occur in later life include;
- Mobility issues
- Hearing impairment
- Sight impairment
Tenants with dementia may struggle to remember to pay rent on time or find the right numbers to call to report issues. In this case, you may need to set up an automated payment system and make more regular property inspections.
As a landlord, you may need to make adjustments or allowances for tenants with health issues or disabilities if they’re living in your property. From fitting stair lifts to changing your communication channels, we explore this in more detail further down the page.
Things to Consider When Renting to Elderly Tenants
Here are some main points for landlords to consider to ensure elderly tenants’ needs are met;
Elderly tenants are more likely to require a peaceful area with easy access to essential amenities such as shops, the post office and everyday services.
If you’re targeting elderly tenants, do your research first to find desirable areas for this tenant group.
Consider Allowing Pets
For many older people, pets provide essential companionship and emotional support. When renting to this tenant group, it’s worth considering allowing pets as this will make your property more desirable to a wider pool of tenants.
If you’re worried about damage to the property, asking for a higher deposit is a reasonable request.
Many older people who have not grown up with email or mobile phones may struggle to use these communication channels. When dealing with older tenants, you may need to stick to phone calls or letters.
Determining the easiest forms of communication at the start of the tenancy will help encourage a positive landlord/tenant relationship. Some tenants with sight impairments may require all written communication in Braille.
Property Adjustments for Older People
Under the 2010 Equality Act, landlords are required by law to make any reasonable adjustments to their properties to allow tenants with disabilities to live safely and comfortably.
This could include;
- Installing access ramps for wheelchair or mobility scooter users
- Installing stair lifts
- Installing railings in the bathroom
- Fitting accessible kitchen and bathroom facilities
- Widening doors for wheelchair access
- Ground floor level access
- Unrestricted parking access
Living Safely: Family Contact Numbers
If your tenant has a fall or you are unable to contact them and are concerned for their safety, it’s a good idea to have access to the contact details and phone numbers of close family members. Having a small number of people you can contact regarding your tenant can help ensure their safety and strengthen the lines of communication.
Elderly tenants can be more vulnerable to break ins and door to door scams. Ensuring the rental property is safe and secure can help protect your tenant against crime. To secure your property;
- Always change the locks between tenancies
- Ensure all windows have good quality locks
- Ensure all external doors are well fitted
- Consider an alarm system
- Fit security lighting
- Fit a front door buzzer or peep hole to allow tenants to check who’s at the door before answering
Evicting An Elderly Tenant: The Right Way
For elderly tenants, finding a new rental home can prove more difficult, particularly if they suffer from age related health issues. If your tenant is late on rent payments or if there are any property maintenance issues, try to find a solution before beginning the eviction process.
For example, helping the tenant set up automated rent payments or providing advice on where to find government financial support could make all the difference. Likewise, encouraging your tenant to employ a cleaner or approaching family members for help could solve any property maintenance issues.
However, if there is no alternative and you need to evict your tenant, here’s some advice;
- Seek legal advice before proceeding
- Always follow the correct laws, regulations and procedures
Protecting Your Property
For some older people, property maintenance becomes harder as they experience reduced mobility. This can be a concern for landlords of furnished properties, worried about damage beyond fair wear and tear.
To protect your property long term, always invest in a professional property inventory report as evidence of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. This way, you will be in a better position to recover any costs at the end of the tenancy.
Get Help Being A Responsible Landlord
Renting to elderly tenants can be very rewarding, as older tenants tend to look for longer tenancies. However, renting to this tenant group can require certain adjustments and property management tasks that take up time.
If you rent to elderly tenants, investing in a professional property inventory service can save you time and help to ensure you’re fulfilling all your obligations as a landlord.
From regular property inspections to property inventory reports – No Letting Go provide a wide range of property services across the UK.
Browse our full list of property inventory services to find out how we could help.
With several types of tenancies out there, the variations can get confusing for new tenants and landlords. So, what is a periodic tenancy?
Periodic tenancies can offer great benefits, including increased flexibility and less paperwork. However, they aren’t without their drawbacks.
That’s why we’ve created this guide on the risks and rewards of periodic tenancies, to help you make an informed decision before drawing up a contract.
What is a Periodic Tenancy Agreement?
A periodic tenancy is a tenancy that runs for a certain period of time, most commonly month to month. Periodic tenancies can also run on a week to week or quarterly basis, although this is less common.
Unlike fixed term tenancies, periodic tenancies work as a rolling contract which can be terminated by landlord or tenant by giving notice.
Types of Tenancy Agreements
Tenancies can come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the terms and conditions of the agreement. However, here are the most common types of tenancies you’re likely to come across;
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
Assured shorthold tenancies are the most common and apply to most private rentals with a tenancy date starting after 15 January 1989. Most assured shorthold tenancies begin with a fixed period of 6 or 12 months.
Non-Assured Shorthold Tenancy
If your rental property demands less than £250 or more than £100,000 in rent per year or it is used as a holiday home, it won’t be eligible for an assured tenancy. This means you don’t have to enter the tenant’s deposit into a protection scheme or serve a section 21 notice to evict tenants.
It is unlikely you’ll need an assured tenancy these days unless you are a housing association. This type of tenancy gives the tenant longer-term stability.
Sometimes referred to as a license, excluded tenancies are for tenants who lodge with their landlord and share communal areas.
If a tenancy started before 15 January 1989 it may be a regulated tenancy. The difference being that tenants have enhanced rights when it comes to eviction and ‘fair rent’.
When renting to companies, different rules apply in terms of deposit protection and eviction notices.
Fixed Term Tenancy
A fixed term tenancy lasts for an agreed set of time, depending on what is set out in the tenancy agreement. Usually this will be 12 months.
Short-Term Fixed Tenancy
A short-term fixed tenancy lasts for 90 days or less.
A periodic tenancy works on a rolling basis with no fixed end date. E.g. month by month.
What is a Statutory Periodic Tenancy?
A statutory periodic tenancy occurs when an assured shorthold tenancy comes to the end of its fixed term and the tenant stays at the property without renewing the contract. If the tenant continues to pay rent and it is accepted by the landlord, the tenancy will continue on a periodic, rolling basis.
This transition from fixed term assured shorthold tenancy to statutory periodic tenancy is automatic.
What is a Contractual Periodic Tenancy?
A contractual periodic tenancy differs in that it is agreed in the tenancy contract as opposed to automatically transitioning from a fixed term into a periodic tenancy. This can either be agreed upon at the start of the tenancy or shortly before the fixed term contract expires.
It is also possible to enter into a periodic tenancy from the outset by setting the initial term as one month or week.
How Does a Periodic Tenancy Work?
While a fixed term tenancy lasts for an agreed set of time, a periodic tenancy works on a rolling basis, from month to month or week to week. It doesn’t end until one party gives notice.
In a periodic tenancy, the period depends on when the rent is paid by the tenant. So, in a monthly period tenancy the tenant would pay rent each month.
Shorthold tenancies become periodic tenancies after the fixed term agreement expires and if there is no new contract drawn up with the remaining tenants. The assured shorthold tenancy will automatically become a periodic tenancy as long as the tenants do not change, and they are happy to retain the same contract. The same conditions will apply and there is no further action needed by the landlord or tenant.
Ending a Periodic Tenancy
To end a periodic tenancy, there are several legal processes that can take place;
- Both landlord and tenant mutually agree to end the tenancy
- The landlord decides to evict the tenant
- The tenant gives notice
- The landlord gives notice
Periodic Tenancy Notice: Tenants
To end a periodic tenancy, tenants will need to give the right amount of notice depending on the terms stated in the tenancy agreement. They also need to ensure it ends on the right day. For example, if a monthly periodic tenancy began on 1st January it will need to end on the last or the 1st day of the month. From this date, they will no longer be liable for rent payments.
Statutory Periodic Tenancy Notice
If it is a statutory periodic tenancy, tenants must give at least 1 months’ notice for a monthly contract or at least 4 weeks’ notice for a weekly contract. The notice must end on the first or last day of the tenancy period.
Periodic Tenancy Notice Period: Landlords
Landlords must give tenants a written ‘notice to quit’ which must end on the last day of the rental period, give the minimum notice period and include legal information.
For statutory periodic tenancies, it is also possible for landlords to issue a section 21 notice as long as the landlord gives the tenant at least two months’ notice and the last day is the last day of the tenancy period. If the tenant does not move out on this date, landlords have the right to request a court order to regain possession. However, changes to the law regarding section 21 notices now require a landlord to give their reasoning, alongside relevant evidence.
Benefits of a Periodic Tenancy for Landlords
A periodic tenancy can have wide-ranging benefits for both landlord and tenant, including;
- Increased flexibility. If you suddenly need to regain possession of your property, a periodic tenancy speeds up this process as you don’t have to wait until the end of a fixed period.
- Attracting tenants. For some tenants, this flexibility is a bonus. If your tenant moves a lot for work or often needs to relocate suddenly, a periodic tenancy becomes appealing.
- Reduced letting agency fees. Periodic tenancies can dispel the need for renewals and the administration costs that come with them.
- If for any reason you need to increase the rent, this is made a lot easier by periodic tenancies. Revisions to rent payments can be made much more quickly when operating on a month by month basis.
- If you are having issues with a particular tenant, a periodic tenancy may be in your favour as you are better able to evict problem tenants as a last resort.
Risks of Periodic Tenancies for Landlords
With these advantages also come risks. If you’re thinking of entering into a periodic tenancy, watch out for the following potential dangers;
- Naturally, periodic tenancies are more likely to attract tenants looking for shorter, more transient leases. If it’s stability you’re after, you may want to think twice.
- Similarly, shorter term tenants can cost more in terms of marketing and vetting potential new tenants to replace them.
- With 1 month or less notice periods, you don’t have a long turnaround time if a tenant decides to move out unexpectedly. You will need to have end of tenancy cleaning and maintenance processes finely tuned so as not to lose out.
- If your tenant moves out during a ‘notice to quit’ period, you may be liable for paying council tax for the property. To avoid this situation, make sure you have a contractual periodic tenancy agreement in place to ensure this remains the tenant’s responsibility.
Periodic Tenancies: Good Idea?
Periodic tenancies can be a good idea as they offer increased flexibility for both landlord and tenant and can reduce the number of administrative tasks needed throughout a tenancy.
However, to protect your investment, we recommend;
- Always drawing up a contractual periodic tenancy agreement. This way you have all the agreed terms in writing and won’t be liable for council tax payments if your tenant moves out unexpectedly.
- Getting your property marketing up to scratch to attract new tenants and avoid extended void periods.
- Making sure you have all the processes in place for a speedy turnaround to avoid any losses. This includes;
- A detailed and fuss-free inventory report is vital when you’re dealing with potentially shorter tenancies. Having a streamlined process in place will help protect you against loss or damage and help recover any costs without going through lengthy disputes.
Be Prepared with No Letting Go
The easiest way to protect your investment and maintain a happy landlord/tenant relationship is to entrust a comprehensive, unbiased inventory reporting service.
Here at No Letting Go, we provide a tailor-made service, including everything from check-in to property visits.
Find out more about our property services to see how we could build them into a package that suits you.
Subletting is surprisingly common and can offer benefits for both landlords and tenants. But what counts as subletting? And what do landlords need to know about the risks?
We explore what subletting is and what you can do as a landlord to mitigate the risks.
What is Considered Subletting?
Subletting is when a tenant decides to rent out either a room or whole property to a third party. For example, if a tenant decides to go travelling for an extended period, they might try to let their room out to another tenant to pay their rent. Other reasons could include;
- Change in income
- If they need to relocate before the end of a contract
- If another tenant decides to move out before the end of the tenancy and they need to fill the space
To be a sublet, the original, existing tenant needs to give exclusive access of at least one area of the property to the subtenant. The subtenant will not pay rent directly to the landlord but to the original tenant.
Is Subletting Illegal?
In most cases, subletting is legal if the tenant obtains the landlords permission to let out the rental property.
However, if the tenant sublets without written permission, they could come into legal difficulties.
Can A Landlord Refuse A Sublet?
This all depends on what it says in the tenancy agreement. If there is a section in the agreement that says a tenant can ask the landlord to sublet, landlords will need to have a valid reason for refusal.
However, if there is no mention of subletting in the tenancy agreement, as a landlord, you can refuse more easily.
It’s worth noting that in the case of fixed term tenancies, the tenant may still be able to sublet without consent if there is no mention in the agreement. That’s why it’s important to be clear on the terms of your agreement from the get-go.
Not keen on the idea of allowing a tenant to sublet? There are a few steps you can take to ensure it doesn’t happen;
- Include a section in the tenancy agreement prohibiting subletting
- Arrange regular property inspections to help prevent unwanted subletting. The professional carrying out the inspection will usually be able to tell if something is awry. It will also indicate to your tenants that you aren’t complacent as a landlord.
- Try to develop strong relationships with your tenants so they come to you first if they are having any difficulties making the rent.
If a tenant decides to go ahead and sublet without permission, there are two main circumstances that most commonly occur;
The tenant rents out a room in the property whilst still living at the address.
This is the most common situation, and often happens when flatmates move out unexpectedly.
In this situation, think carefully about how you want to proceed. If the new subtenant has caused no issues and the rent is paid on time, it can sometimes be advantageous to allow them to continue living at the property. If this is the case, draw up an agreement to stay protected. Don’t accept any payment until you have a proper tenancy agreement in place.
The tenant rents out several or all the rooms in the rental property whilst living at a different address.
This could have serious consequences for you as the landlord. If these subletting tenants report issues to the original tenant who they assume is the landlord, property maintenance issues may go unresolved and you start to lose control of your property.
What Happens If Your Tenant Sublets Without Permission?
If you discover your tenant is subletting without your permission, there are a few steps you can take;
- Talk to your original tenant first to find a solution
- If the tenant persists subletting, sub-tenants should be informed, and either be asked to vacate the property or draw up a new tenancy agreement for them
- If all else fails and the subtenant refuses to vacate, you may need to begin the eviction process
What Are The Risks Of Subletting?
If a tenant decides to sublet their room, there are a number of risks you need to be aware of;
Insurance and Mortgage
Some insurance and mortgage providers don’t allow subletting and ignoring this could lead to voiding your contract. It’s vital you avoid this at all costs by checking your agreement before allowing a sublet.
End of The Tenancy
If your original tenant decides to move out, but their subtenant is still living in your rental property, you may come up against issues. Evicting a tenant without a tenancy agreement can get complicated.
How Do You Sublet Safely? Tips for Landlords
Subletting doesn’t always spell disaster. In fact, it can be profitable for both landlord and tenant, solving common issues such as change of circumstance.
If you do decide to grant your tenant permission to sublet, here’s a few steps you can take to ensure your investment stays protected;
- Ensure you are clear on the contents of the tenancy agreement and what it says about subletting. If there is no mention, you may want to add a clause to be on the safe side.
- Spend time on tenant referencing to ensure you end up with reliable, trustworthy tenants.
- Spend time getting to know your tenants and making a good impression. This way, they are more likely to come to you first if their circumstances change.
- Carry out regular property inspections.
Protect Your Investment with No Letting Go
If you need a helping hand protecting your investment, we have teams of experienced inventory clerks across the country ready to support you.
We can provide regular property visits, every 3-4 months to ensure your property is being well maintained and tenants are fulfilling their contractual obligations.
In addition, a comprehensive inventory report is one of the best ways to protect your investment in the long term.
Interested in hearing more? Get in touch or visit our services page to find our property inventory packages.
Usually, landlords don’t have to worry about council tax. However, when it comes to HMO properties and vacant periods, things can start to get confusing.
It’s important to understand your landlord council tax responsibilities so as not to get caught out by any unexpected bills or legal issues. So, who pays council tax? What happens when your property is empty? And what about unpaid tenant debts?
From who is responsible to available discounts and exemptions, our council tax guide covers everything responsible landlords need to know.
Should I Be Paying Council Tax?
All residential properties in England and Wales are liable for council tax. If you fail to pay on time, there could be serious financial and legal consequences.
How does it work? The council tax system works according to a hierarchy of liability. The first on the list to pay is any adult over the age of 18 who is an occupant of the property. The landlord or property owner comes much further down this list.
How Is Council Tax Calculated?
Properties are assessed by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and placed within bands A-H according to the location and type of housing. The banding is based on the amount the property could be sold for and the cost for each band varies by council.
Who Pays Council Tax: Tenant Or Landlord?
This depends on the sort of tenancy agreement you have in place. Usually, if you rent the entire property to one or several joint tenants, it is their responsibility to pay. (This includes single occupants, families and shared tenancies) In this case, the bills will be sent directly from the local council to your tenants, leaving you out of the equation.
However, if you rent to several tenants with individual tenancy agreements, you will become responsible for paying council tax. Therefore, if you rent out an HMO property, you will be liable to pay.
Do Landlords Pay Council Tax On Empty Properties?
Yes. During void periods, the landlord is responsible for paying council tax.
The size of the bill depends on your local council. You could be given a discount of up to 50% while the property remains unoccupied. However, this is becoming more unlikely as the number of unoccupied properties grow.
If your property is unfurnished, you may be exempt from council tax for up to 6 months.
Is A Landlord Liable For Unpaid Council Tax?
Not usually. As long as the tenancy agreement stipulated that council tax payments were the responsibility of the tenants, then landlords should be safe if tenants leave with unpaid debts.
If your property is vacant for any time, as the landlord, you will be responsible for paying tax during this period. However, you should not be responsible for repaying leftover bills that should have been paid by tenants while they were living in the property.
Without proof of a signed tenancy agreement, it will be harder to convince the council of your exemption if your tenant moves out early without notifying you.
See our blog on who is responsible for unpaid utility bills for more answers to common questions regarding bills.
Landlord Council Tax Exemption
Some properties and tenants are either exempt from paying council tax or are eligible for a discounted rate.
If you’re a landlord of an HMO property, make sure you check your tenant’s status to find out if you are eligible for any discounts. For example, if there is a mix of full-time students and one adult, you may receive a 25% discount.
Who Is Exempt From Council Tax?
There are certain groups of people who are exempt or eligible for a discounted council tax bill;
- Single occupants of a property receive a 25% discount
- Full time students are exempt
- Live in carers are exempt
- Tenants below the age of 18 are exempt
What Properties Are Exempt From Council Tax?
There are also a number of properties that are exempt from paying council tax;
- Unfurnished properties may be exempt for six months
- Recently repaired properties may be exempt for six months
- Properties occupied by full time students only
- Properties solely inhabited by tenants under the age of 18 receive a 50% discount
Landlord Council Tax Advice
To ensure you stay on top of your council tax responsibilities and avoid any unexpected bills, follow these simple tips;
- Always determine who is responsible for paying council tax in the tenancy agreement
- Keep a signed copy of this agreement on file
- Notify your local authority at each change of tenancy and give the names of new tenants
- For HMO properties where you are liable to pay council tax, ensure you factor this cost into the rent price
- Plan for any void periods in which you may have to pay council tax
- Check for any council tax discounts or exemptions you may be eligible for
- Try to minimise void periods to avoid paying council tax in between tenants
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- Floor plans
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What if your tenant moves out without paying their utility bills or council tax? Does it fall on you as the landlord to pick up the pieces?
This is a common question among both landlords and tenants, and it needs clearing up. So, who is responsible for unpaid utility bills? Let’s find out.
Are Landlords Responsible For Unpaid Utility Bills?
Not usually. As long as it is the tenant’s name on the bill, and it is stated in the tenancy agreement that tenants are responsible for utilities, landlords are not liable for unpaid bills left over by tenants.
However, as a landlord, there are some steps you will need to take to protect yourself if you find yourself in this tricky situation;
- Always tell the local council when a new tenant moves in. You will need to provide the names of the new tenants and the contact details of the previous tenants so they can get in touch if needs be.
- Inform the energy suppliers of the property of any change in tenancy (this includes gas, electricity and water)
- Encourage new tenants to change the name on the utility bills as soon as possible.
- Make a note of the meter readings at the start and end of each tenancy so you have a record for the utility companies.
- Ensure your tenancy agreement clearly states that utility payments are the responsibility of the tenant.
- Keep a signed copy of the tenancy agreement in a safe, easily accessible place.
What Bills Are Tenants Responsible For?
This depends on the tenancy agreement you have in place.
Commonly, tenants are responsible for the following bills;
- Council tax
However, this is not always the case. Let’s look at two different situations;
Utilities Registered In The Tenant’s Name
When bills are registered in the tenant’s name, the tenant is responsible for paying them from the date they move into the property. However, they are not responsible for any debts left behind from previous tenants. It’s important for tenants to check the meter readings on move-in day so they can supply their energy providers with the correct readings at the start of their tenancy.
In this case, landlords are not required to pay any remaining payments after their tenant has left. The utility companies will have to chase the tenant themselves, meaning the issue is out of your hands.
Utilities Registered In The Landlord’s Name
You can choose to register bills in the landlord’s name and ask the tenant to pay you for their usage. This can be helpful for short lets, or if you rent out a room in your own house. However, if the tenant leaves without paying, you may be responsible for paying the outstanding sum.
To avoid this situation, always follow the steps outlines above.
End Of Tenancy Utility Bills
To end a contract, most utility suppliers require a few days notice before the end of a tenancy. As long as the bills are in the tenant’s name, this is entirely their responsibility to organise.
If there is outstanding debt left over and…
- The utilities are in the landlord’s name
- Or the tenant failed to register for utilities whilst living at the property
You may be able to prove the tenants were living at the property if you supply a copy of the tenancy agreement. However, this will depend on the individual policies of the utility companies.
Who Is Responsible For Bills During Void Periods?
If your property is empty for any period of time, the owner of the property is responsible for utility payments.
This is why it’s best to keep energy usage to a minimum in between tenants. However, during the winter, we recommend keeping the heat consistent to protect against mould and damp and avoid further maintenance costs in the long run.
If your property is left vacant for an extended period, you will need to organise regular vacant property inspections to check for leaks or mould.
Who Is Responsible For Utilities In Multiple Occupancy Properties?
If there are several tenants living at a property, disputes can often arise regarding bills. The main thing to remember is that whoever’s name is on the bill is ultimately responsible.
This means, if all tenants in a house share or HMO rental property have their name registered to a utility bill, they are all equally liable to repay debts, even if it’s only one tenant who hasn’t paid.
Property Management Help From No Letting Go
One of the simplest ways to avoid disputes and protect your investment at the end of a tenancy is to have all of your property reports in one easily accessible place.
All of our check in reports come with utility checks and meter readings included to help landlords and property professionals keep on top of their responsibilities.
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As a landlord, you’ll understand the importance of finding reliable tenants that pay the rent on time. One way to secure this is through comprehensive tenant reference checks. But what happens if a potential tenant fails their credit check?
Renting to tenants with bad credit doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. If the tenant ticks all the right boxes, there are ways to get around this issue and protect yourself and your investment.
What Is A Tenant Reference Check?
A tenant reference check helps landlords and letting agents decide if a tenant is likely to be reliable and pay each month’s rent on time.
In addition to a credit check, tenant referencing can look for;
- Proof of identity
- Proof of employment
- Current salary
- Bank statements
- Proof of benefit claims
- Right to rent in the UK
- A previous landlord reference
What Is A Credit Check?
A credit check looks at the tenant’s credit report and financial history, spotting any times they have missed bill payments or have fallen into arrears. This is analysed to produce an individual credit score.
A credit score can range from around 0- 900 points, depending on the score system used. A good credit score could be anything above 750 points.
What’s The Minimum Credit Score A Landlord Should Accept For A Tenant?
An acceptable credit score will be dependent on the scoring system used, as they differ between referencing agencies. However, when a tenant’s credit score comes back as poor or very poor, you may want to think about asking some further questions.
What Causes A Bad Credit Scoring?
A poor credit score can be caused by a number of issues, some more concerning than others when it comes to potential tenants.
Here are a few of the more serious reasons for a poor credit rating;
Naturally, being in debt can negatively affect a tenant’s credit score as it suggests that they struggle to manage their money and are not financially stable. If this issue is uncovered by a credit check, you may think twice about entering into a tenancy agreement.
Being Declared Bankrupt
This should set major alarm bells ringing for landlords as it suggests the tenant has had difficulty managing repayments in the past.
County Court Judgements
A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is when a tenant is forced to repay a debt by the courts. If this shows up, it’s not a great first impression.
Late Credit Card Or Loan Repayments
If a tenant has struggled to pay credit card repayments in time, this doesn’t bode well for rent payments.
There are also a number of issues that can affect credit scores that don’t necessarily mean a tenant will struggle with their finances;
Not Having A Credit History
One reason for a poor credit rating that is particularly common among younger tenants and students is not having a credit history at all. If the tenant has never taken out a credit card or loan and has never paid bills from their bank account, they won’t have a credit trail to check, resulting in a low score.
This is a likely occurrence if you rent to students or young adults who have just left home and doesn’t necessarily mean that the tenant will be bad at managing their money.
Only Making The Minimum Credit Card Repayments
Credit scores can be affected if the tenant only makes the minimum repayment on their credit card each month. The assumption is that they are struggling to keep up with all their outgoings, however this isn’t always the case.
Not Being On the Electoral Roll
Not updating addresses and personal information can affect credit score, as can not being on the electoral roll. This step is easily forgotten when moving house and doesn’t prove the tenant will be unreliable.
No Proof Of Address
If a tenant hasn’t been responsible for paying bills at their previous residence or were not named on the tenancy agreement, it can be difficult for the referencing agency to determine proof of address.
How Important Is Good Credit?
As we explored above, good credit isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to finding a good tenant. Equally as important is whether they fit your target tenant profile.
If you’ve been struggling to rent out your property or think the tenant will make a good fit, there are ways to get around bad credit.
How To Rent to Tenants With Bad Credit
Poor credit rating alone doesn’t mean you should give up on a tenant if they tick all the other boxes. Here are some ways to minimise risk;
The first thing to do when a potential tenant’s credit check comes back as poor, is to find out why. If it was down to late or missed payments it may be best to steer clear, however if it’s something as simple as a lack of credit history then it needn’t stop you from going ahead with the tenancy.
Ask To See Previous Rent Payments
Seeing proof of regular, timely rent payments for a previous rental arrangement will help to ease your concerns about their responsibility as a tenant.
Charge a Larger Deposit
If a tenant has a low credit score, it’s likely they will be prepared to pay a slightly larger security deposit to make up for it. This will give you extra leverage when it comes to recovering costs at the end of the tenancy.
Ask For A Guarantor
One of the best ways to protect yourself if a tenant has poor credit is to ask for a guarantor. A guarantor will be able to cover any costs if the tenant is unable to pay, giving you extra protection.
The guarantor will need to sign the tenancy agreement along with the tenant and have secure financial status.
Ask For A Previous Landlord Reference
One sure way to find out if a tenant is reliable is to ask their previous landlord.
Here are some questions to ask;
- Did the tenant pay rent on time each month?
- Did the tenant look after the rental property?
- How often did the tenant raise issues with the landlord or letting agent?
- Were any complaints received from neighbours regarding the tenant?
- What condition did they leave the property at the end of the tenancy?
- Would you feel happy renting to the tenant again?
Ask For Rent Upfront
While this may be a lot to ask and not always in scope, a tenant with a high risk credit score may be prepared to pay rent upfront. Paying the first six months of rent upfront will ease any initial worries and give the tenant time to prove their reliability.
Receive Payments By Direct Debit
Asking for rent payments via direct debit is common practice these days and is especially important if you’re concerned about a tenant’s financial responsibility.
Shorten The Tenancy
If you’re worried about the reliability of a tenant, setting a shorter, probationary rental period in which the tenant has time to prove their responsibility could be a good idea. If you experience late payments or other issues, you can terminate the tenancy early.
Talk To The Tenant
You can tell a lot from a frank, face-to-face conversation. If your potential tenant willingly discloses their credit issues and can provide a reasonable explanation for the low score, you will be much better placed to make an informed decision.
How To Organise A Tenant Reference Check
Although credit checks aren’t the only way to choose the right tenant, it is important to perform tenant referencing so you aren’t caught out further down the line.
As a busy landlord, you may want to delegate this task to a professional tenant referencing company. Placing this responsibility in the experienced hands of a recommended referencing company will minimise any risks and help the process go smoothly.
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In addition to choosing a reliable tenant, a comprehensive inventory is one of the best ways to protect your rental property.
At No Letting Go, we offer unbiased property inventory reports to help safeguard your property against damage and recover essential costs at the end of a tenancy. All the way through from Schedule of Condition, to check in and property visits, our property clerks are there to simplify the rental process and save you time.
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If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of providing a furnished or partly furnished property for prospective tenants, you’ve come to the right place.
Letting a furnished property has plenty of benefits, including quality tenants and longer tenancies. However, furnishing your property can get expensive and cause issues down the line if not done properly.
Here, we discuss how to furnish a rental property with tips and tricks on making the most of your portfolio.
What’s the Difference Between Fully Furnished and Partly Furnished?
Let’s clear this up before we get started.
Usually, a furnished property will come with essential electrical appliances, white goods and basic furniture. In short, everything a tenant needs to move in straight away.
A partly furnished property will only include white goods, lighting and essentials such as curtains and kitchen cabinets. It may also include some other furniture items at the discretion of the landlord or letting agent.
An unfurnished property will come with only the very basics- light fittings, carpets and essential appliances such as an oven.
Should you Furnish Your Rental Property?
Furnished or unfurnished? It’s a tricky question. While renting unfurnished properties may seem like the easy option, providing a furnished property comes with attractive benefits;
You Can Charge Higher Rent
A well-furnished property may affect the amount of rent you can charge.
With a lack of quality, furnished properties on the rental market, tenants searching for a ready-made home are prepared to pay a little more for the convenience.
Good quality furnishings that make your property look welcoming will attract tenants and help your property stand out.
Attract the Right Tenants
A well-furnished property will attract a wider pool of renters, allowing you to pick and choose to find the right tenant for you– whatever that might look like.
Secure Longer Tenancies
A home that feels well cared for and inviting will encourage tenants to stay longer term.
Who is Your Target Tenant?
The tenant group you’re targeting should be the biggest consideration when deciding whether to furnish your property. Well established families or older professionals are likely to have their own furniture they want to bring with them.
Whereas students or young professionals may be looking for convenience and a place they can move in straight away.
What Does a Landlord Have to Provide in a Furnished Flat?
When providing tenants with a furnished home, there are certain items they will expect to be included;
What to Include
A furnished property should include;
- White goods (oven, washing machine, fridge freezer etc.)
- Dining table and chairs
- Sofas and chairs
- Wardrobes, chest of drawers and cupboards
- Light fittings
What Not to Include
However, there are a few items landlords are not expected to provide;
- Bed linen, duvets and pillows
- Cleaning supplies
Furnishing a Buy to Let Property: Top Tips
To make things easier for yourself at the end of the tenancy agreement, we have some tips and advice on how to furnish your rental property;
Choose Easy to Clean Furniture
Wear and tear is inevitable, but to keep your property in good condition, easy to clean appliances will encourage your tenants to keep things well maintained.
When it comes to personal taste, we’re all different. Let your tenants choose the little details so they can feel at home. Similarly- neutral colours work best.
Choose Easy to Replace Items
This way, if things get broken, they can be replaced with a ‘like for like’ item without too much bother.
Replace Furnishings as Needed
Old, stained carpets will do nothing for your properties appeal. The Tenancy Deposit Scheme recommends replacing most items of furniture after 7 years.
Provide Basic Tools
Providing basic tools will encourage tenants to take care of minor issues themselves, taking one more thing off your plate.
Follow Safety Regulations
As a responsible landlord, you need to follow fire safety laws when it comes to soft furnishings.
Choosing the Right Furnishings
Let’s take a closer look at some of the types of furniture to include in your rental property, room by room.
Living Room Furniture
Basics to include:
- Sofa(s) or armchairs
- Coffee table
Best Sofas for Rental Properties
Here’s a few of our top picks of the best sofas to buy for your rental property:
This modern 2-seater sofa in a neutral grey will work well in slick apartments for young professionals and is pretty easy on the budget too!
A sofa bed is a big plus among tenants, and this one is great value for money. This simple, classic style will work well in most interiors and families will love the extra storage space.
The Quality 3-Seater
If you’re trying to attract professionals willing to pay high prices for the right home, a quality sofa is essential. This one comes from an esteemed brand and the elegant style will have mass appeal.
Kitchen/Dining Room Furniture
Basics to include:
- Kitchen cabinets
- Essential appliances (oven, washing machine, fridge freezer, toaster, kettle etc.)
- Table and chairs
Best Dining Tables for Rental Properties
A dining table is the hub of any home and getting the right one is important.
This handy piece of furniture features built in storage and a fold-out table design. Perfect when letting properties with small kitchens.
The Extendable Table
The simple, modern design of this table will fit neatly into any interior, and the extendable section can accommodate extra guests. It’s also budget-friendly!
Basics to include:
- Chest of drawers
- Bedside table
Best Mattress for Rental Properties
A mattress is perhaps the most important piece of furniture for your rental property. A considerate investment, you need it to be durable and long lasting. Here’s our top picks;
This mattress from the Memory Foam Warehouse makes quality memory foam affordable. Starting at under £100, you’re unlikely to find anything cheaper.
Buying a mattress for your rental property is only half the battle. The next job is delivery. Opting for a bed in a box mattress means the mattress can be delivered straight to the property in a convenient sized box.
Once you’ve invested in a mattress, it makes sense to protect it. A mattress topper can prolong the life of a mattress and guard against stains to keep it looking fresh at the end of the tenancy. This memory foam mattress topper is a cheap but comfortable option.
Protecting Your Furnished Rental Property: Inventory Management
Once you’ve gone to the effort of furnishing your rental property, you need to ensure it’s protected.
The easiest way to do this is by investing in a comprehensive inventory report delivered by unbiased professionals. A property inventory helps guard your property and its contents against damage by providing full details of its condition at the start and end of a tenancy.
At No Letting Go, we provide landlords and property professionals with comprehensive services and reports to protect their investment and streamline processes. Browse our full list of inventory management services to find out how we can help.